About me

me in Paris

I was a civil servant (tax professional) for nearly 27 years, with roles including Director of Corporation Tax, International and Anti-Avoidance in HMRC and Head of Corporate Tax in HM Treasury. Most recently, I was HMRC Director of Large Business, before leaving the civil service in March 2016 to pursue wider interests and to be free to comment.

I am a Governor at University of Hertfordshire, and prior to my civil service career was an academic in Linguistics at SOAS, University of London.

I am also an amateur pianist. You can hear me play Janáček on Radio 3 – James Rhodes’ Saturday Classics, 20 August 2016 – here. I’ve also uploaded a micro-recital on the blog, and as a YouTube playlist.



Can Brexit be used as the focus for a wider debate on tax policy? (CoVi Responsible Tax Lab, February 2018)

Making tax policy post-Brexit: an international perspective (CoVi Responsible Tax Lab and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Responsible Tax, January 2018)

Autumn 2017 Budget: a predictable one for business taxes (LSE British Politics and Policy blog, November 2017)

What might we expect for business taxes in the Autumn Budget? (LSE British Politics and Policy blog, November 2017)

Tax avoidance laid bare: the BNP Paribas case (AccountingWEB, September 2017)

Germany’s big tax scandal: lessons for the UK (AccountingWEB, July 2017)

Tax and the Taylor Review (CoVi Responsible Tax Lab, July 2017)

One minute with … Judith Knott (Tax Journal, October 2016)

Making Tax Digital: The legal hurdles (report of discussion with Rebecca Cave: AccountingWEB, October 2016)

Philip Hammond should shelve Osborne’s plan to cut corporation tax (LSE British Politics and Policy blog, July 2016)

As HMRC Director:

Q&A: The view from HMRC’s Large Business Directorate (Tax Journal, November 2015)

Roundtable discussion: tax competitiveness and CFC reform (report of discussion with Ian Brimicombe, John Overs, Mark Edwards and Tim Voak: Tax Journal, November 2011)

International Collaboration (with Narmada de Silva: Tax Journal, June 2009)

From my previous life as a linguist:


Phonological change and inflectional morphology: a case from the Low German and Dutch dialects (Transactions of the Philological Society, vol.84 /1, 1986)  [peer-reviewed journal]

Other articles

The causative-passive correlation (1988, included in Subject, Voice and Ergativity, ed. Bennett, Bynon and Hewitt, 1995 – along with translations from Russian of 2 articles)

Causative-passive links (1987, included in Proceedings of the 14th International Congress of Linguists, ed. W Bahner, 1990)

Book review

Jadranka Gvozdanović: Language system and its change (reviewed 1987, Journal of Linguistics, vol.23/2)

And finally …

Unpublished PhD thesis: A study of analogical change: vowel alternation in the verb in the Low German and Dutch dialects (1985, University of London, SOAS, Dept of Linguistics)

[of interest mainly as a relic of early PC technology: printed in high-quality dot-matrix font on fine-perforation paper, with isogloss maps in manuscript (late 20th-century felt-tip pen on photocopy)]